Hope College

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Guy Vander Jagt was a Republican politician from Cadillac, Michigan who attended Hope College and graduated in 1953. He went on to receive a B.D. from Yale Divinity School, graduating in 1955, and a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School in 1960. Vander Jagt was elected to the Michigan State Senate in 1964, and was reelected 12 times.

The collection in the Joint Archives consists of four series: Legislative, Correspondence, Administrative, and Personal/Political.


Guy Vander Jagt was born in Cadillac, Michigan, on August 26, 1931. While still a student at Cadillac High School, he began preaching at the Tustin Presbyterian Church. By the time he graduated from Hope College in Holland, Michigan, in 1953, he had won the National Oratorical Championship, was undefeated in four years of extemporaneous speaking at the state and national level, and won the Michigan Debate Championships three years in a row—a record never equaled before or since. He attended Yale Divinity School, graduating with a Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1957. After graduating from Yale, he served as interim pastor of the Cadillac Congregational Church. In the summer of 1952, Vander Jagt was Holland’s community ambassador to Bonn, Germany. He studied for one year at the University of Bonn on a Rotary Foundation Fellowship.

His first job after college was as news director and anchor for WWTV in Cadillac, Michigan. Soon he went back to school to study law at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. While in Washington, his broadcasting experience paid off when he was hired as a public relations assistant to U.S. Representative Robert McIntosh, R-MI, in 1958. Later that year he left Washington to attend law school at the University of Michigan, where he received his J.D. in 1960. From 1960 to 1964 he practiced law at Warner, Norcross & Judd in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In 1964 he married Carol Doorn of Grand Rapids. That year he ran for a seat in the Michigan State Senate, touting his legal experience and oratorical skills, and was elected.

In February of 1966, Vander Jagt was one of thirty-six candidates in Gov. George Romney’s program to select a “consensus candidate” to the U.S. Senate. The field of thirty-six was narrowed to three—Dr. Leroy Augesstine, U.S. Rep. Bob Griffin, and Vander Jagt. 2 When it became clear that neither Vander Jagt nor Griffin could reach the 65% support demanded by Romney as long as each of them stayed in the race, Vander Jagt threw his support to Griffin and ran instead for the congressional seat being vacated by Griffin. He was simultaneously elected to fill the remainder of Griffin’s term in 1966, and to complete a full term beginning in 1967. He held that seat until January 3, 1993.

As an active member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs he was appointed by President Nixon to serve as his personal trade envoy to eight African nations in 1973. Later that same year President Nixon sent Vander Jagt to Japan, Korea, and Taiwan to explain the “Nixon Doctrine” of foreign policy to Asian leaders.

As an active member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs he was appointed by President Nixon to serve as his personal trade envoy to eight African nations in 1973. Later that same year President Nixon sent Vander Jagt to Japan, Korea, and Taiwan to explain the “Nixon Doctrine” of foreign policy to Asian leaders.

Appointed to the powerful Ways and Means Committee in 1974, Vander Jagt was the lead Republican sponsor of the Comprehensive Multilateral Trade Agreement and later the Caribbean Basin Initiative, two major landmark pieces of trade legislation. In addition to serving as the Ranking Republican on the Trade and on the Select Revenue Measures Subcommittees of Ways and Means, Vander Jagt also served on the Joint Tax Committee of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate. By the time of his primary election defeat in 1992, he had risen to become the second ranking minority member on Ways and Means.

In 1992 he lost the Republican primary to challenger Peter Hoekstra. After leaving the House of Representatives, Vander Jagt joined the law firm of Baker & Hostetler LLP, where he has risen to become one of the firm’s top performing legal professionals. He continued to be active in political circles until his death on June 22, 2007.

Scope and Content

The Guy A. Vander Jagt Papers span the dates 1957-1992. Most of the papers date from 1975 to 1992. Also included are papers from his single term as a Michigan State Senator (1965-1966), from his work as a lawyer in Grand Rapids, Michigan (1960 to 1964), and personal papers dating from 1957 to 1964.

The provenance of the collection did not mirror the chronological sequence of Vander Jagt's career in public service. The papers, which arrived in several shipments between 1992 and 1995, came from three locations: the Congressman's Washington and Muskegon, Michigan congressional and campaign offices, and the Federal Records Center in Suitland, Maryland. Seventy-five percent of the files were from the Federal Records Center and most of the rest came from the Washington office.

Staff at the Washington office sent older files to the Federal Records Center periodically to open up storage space in the Washington office. Hence, most of the files dating between 1973 and 1990 were at the Federal Records Center. Papers from Vander Jagt's last term, 1991-1992, were in active use at Vander Jagt's office in Washington, D.C., along with some other files from as far back as 1966, mostly in the Personal/Political subgroup. Almost all of the Muskegon files were campaign files spanning the years 1974-1992.

The Vander Jagt papers are sparse for the years 1967-1975, since Nagelvoort was known to discard files when the Washington office ran out of storage space. Sparling, who arrived in 1975, was more careful to preserve papers, making annual deposits at the Federal Records Center.

The Vander Jagt Papers are divided into four series. The first series, Legislative, contains materials created by Vander Jagt and his staff during the legislative process. The second series, Correspondence, documents the response of Vander Jagt's staff to constituent requests for help in dealing with the federal government. This series also contains mail from constituents and others expressing their opinions about political matters. The third series, Administrative, contains documents that reflect the day-to-day workings of Vander Jagt's Washington office. The Personal/Political series documents Vander Jagt's personal and political activities and opinions, and includes written, audio and visual materials in a variety of formats.

Container List

Outline of Series in the Guy A. Vander Jagt Papers, 1957-1992


  • Bills
  • Voting Records


  • Departmental Files
  • General Files
  • Legislative Files
  • Control Files


  • Press/Media Files
  • Calendars/Schedules/Invitations
  • Trip Files


  • Campaigns
  • Speeches
  • Biographical Files
  • Audio-Visual Materials
  • Publications
  • Memorabilia
  • Famous Signatures


Some files are restricted for reasons of personal privacy (75 years from date of creation) or in accordance with U.S. House of Representatives privacy rules regarding official committee papers (30 years).

Please visit the Joint Archives of Holland page for more information.